Analysis

2022 NFL Draft: Compensatory pick projections for every team

It's no secret that many teams are now crafting their free-agency philosophies around the value of receiving potential compensatory selections in any given year. As you will read in this piece, there were some creative methods teams utilized this offseason to improve their chances of gaining a compensatory pick in 2022.

So, how do compensatory picks work?

The number of compensatory picks allotted each year is limited to the number of teams in the league (32), per the Collective Bargaining Agreement. However, compensatory picks are not divided equally among the teams, and no team can receive more than four compensatory picks in a single year. To qualify for compensatory picks, teams must end up with more or better qualifying free agents lost than gained in a particular year.

Teams are awarded compensatory draft picks between Rounds 3 and 7 based upon a formula, which is not released by the league, that takes into account a player's average salary per year (APY), snap count and postseason awards. While there is an expected level of compensation for a player based on the amount he has signed for, his playing time (or lack thereof) in the upcoming season could alter the expectation.

In November of 2020, the NFL announced it would award two third-round selections (one in consecutive years) to any team that loses a minority coach or executive to a head coach or general manager job with another NFL club. Those selections come at the back end of the compensatory picks awarded in the third round. The Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams all received their first of two picks in this year's draft and will receive the other in next year's draft.

The compensatory picks for the 2022 draft won't be determined by the NFL Management Council's formula until after the 2021 season is over, but in this post, I'll attempt to project who will be receiving compensatory picks next year and the round in which those picks could fall.

Keep in mind: To qualify as a compensatory free agent, players need to have been signed as unrestricted free agents before May 3 and rank high enough among their peers to qualify for the compensatory-pick formula. Players who were released by their previous team are not eligible for the formula, so they're not included in the key additions and losses here.

TEAMS PROJECTED TO RECEIVE 5 PICKS

Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles Rams

Projected compensatory picks: One apiece in Rounds 3 and 4; three in Round 6.

Key free-agent losses: John Johnson (Browns), Samson Ebukam (49ers), Gerald Everett (Seahawks), Troy Hill (Browns), Morgan Fox (Panthers).

Key free-agent additions: None.


Comp-pick analysis: Much to get through here. The Rams lost five qualifying players and signed none, so they would be in line for five picks. However, teams are awarded a maximum of four compensatory picks per year, so they receive picks for Johnson, Ebukam, Everett and Hill. But the rule for third-round compensatory picks for minority head-coaching or general manager hiring is independent from standard comp pick rules. This means the Rams will receive the maximum picks (four) plus an additional special compensatory pick (Brad Holmes hired as Lions GM) for a grand total of five.

TEAMS PROJECTED TO RECEIVE 4 PICKS

Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Chargers

Projected compensatory picks: One in Rounds 5 and 7; two in Round 6.

Key free-agent losses: Dan Feeney (Jets), Hunter Henry (Patriots), Rayshawn Jenkins (Jaguars), Denzel Perryman (Panthers), Sam Tevi (Colts), Tyrod Taylor (Texans).

Key free-agent additions: Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler.


Comp-pick analysis: With the Chargers losing six qualifying free agents and signing just two, they will bring in four compensatory picks, but the loss of Taylor is (as of now) undefined in terms of pick value. Currently, it should bring back a sixth-rounder, but with playing time bonuses adding to his contract value, that pick should become a fifth-rounder if he can get 80 percent of the starting snaps in Houston.

TEAMS PROJECTED TO RECEIVE 3 PICKS

Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens

Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 3; two in Round 4.

Key free-agent losses: Matt Judon (Patriots), Yannick Ngakoue (Raiders), Jihad Ward (Jaguars).

Key free-agent additions: Sammy Watkins.


Comp-pick analysis: The Ravens will receive their second third-round compensatory selection in 2022 due to the hiring of David Culley, head coach of the Houston Texans. They will also receive fourth-round selections for the loss of defensive players Judon and Ngakoue. The latter basically became a three-month rental, and the fourth-rounder gained by his departure this offseason helps to mitigate the loss of the third- and fifth-round picks the Ravens gave up to bring him in.

Arizona Cardinals
Arizona Cardinals

Projected compensatory picks: One in Round 5; two in Round 7.

Key free-agent losses: Dan Arnold (Panthers), Angelo Blackson (Bears), Kenyan Drake (Raiders), Patrick Peterson (Vikings), Haason Reddick (Panthers).

Key free-agent additions: A.J. Green, Matt Prater.


Comp-pick analysis: The Reddick and Drake losses will be offset by the additions of Green and Prater. Peterson’s departure will earn the Cardinals a fifth-round pick while the losses of Arnold and Blackson will bring in seventh-round selections.

Detroit Lions
Detroit Lions

Projected compensatory picks: One apiece in Rounds 3, 5 and 6.

Key free-agent losses: Jamal Agnew (Jaguars), Jarrad Davis (Jets), Kenny Golladay (Giants), Marvin Jones (Jaguars), Matt Prater (Cardinals).

Key free-agent additions: Breshad Perriman, Jamaal Williams.


Comp-pick analysis: After working through the signings and losses, the Lions will receive a third, fifth and sixth for Golladay, Jones and Agnew. It’s worth noting that Golladay and Agnew were drafted in the third and fifth rounds, respectively. In essence, the Lions will get close to the same pick value they used on those two players.

New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints

Projected compensatory picks: One apiece in Rounds 3, 4 and 6.

Key free-agent losses: Justin Hardee (Jets), Trey Hendrickson (Bengals), Sheldon Rankins (Jets).

Key free-agent additions: Tanoh Kpassagnon.


Comp-pick analysis: The Saints get two picks after losing three qualifiers and signing only one, but they will receive another third-round selection for the hiring of Terry Fontenot as general manager by the Atlanta Falcons. Rankins has some performance-based wiggle room that could push his pick into the fifth round.

TEAMS PROJECTED TO RECEIVE 2 PICKS

Green Bay Packers
Green Bay Packers

Projected compensatory picks: One apiece in Rounds 4 and 6.

Key free-agent losses: Corey Linsley (Chargers), Jamaal Williams (Lions).

Key free-agent additions: None.


Comp-pick analysis: After receiving three compensatory picks in 2021, the Packers will earn two more in 2022 with the losses of Linsley and Williams since no qualifying free agents were signed.

Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts

Projected compensatory picks: One apiece in Rounds 5 and 7.

Key free-agent losses: Denico Autry (Titans), Jacoby Brissett (Dolphins), Anthony Walker Jr. (Browns).

Key free-agent additions: Sam Tevi.


Comp-pick analysis: It appears the Colts will turn Autry's very reasonable three-year deal into 20 sacks and a fifth-round pick. It's also worth noting that the specifics of the Tevi contract could cause his signing to cancel Walker's deal rather than Brissett’s, which would mean the Colts would get a sixth-round pick instead of a seventh-rounder.

Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh Steelers

Projected compensatory picks: One apiece in Rounds 3 and 5.

Key free-agent losses: Bud Dupree (Titans), Matt Feiler (Chargers), Mike Hilton (Bengals).

Key free-agent additions: Joe Haeg.


Comp-pick analysis: Pittsburgh should end up receiving two selections with Dupree bringing back a third-round pick and Feiler bringing back a fifth-rounder. There is an outside shot that the Steelers could still receive a sixth-round pick, as well, if Haeg became a non-qualifying free agent.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers

Projected compensatory picks: Two in Round 7.

Key free-agent losses: Kendrick Bourne (Patriots), Kerry Hyder (Seahawks), Solomon Thomas (Raiders), Ahkello Witherspoon (Seahawks).

Key free-agent additions: Samson Ebukam, Alex Mack.


Comp-pick analysis: The departures of VP of player personnel Martin Mayhew (now Washington GM) and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh (now Jets HC) net San Francisco three total third-round selections as part of the minority hiring initiative by the league. However, the 49ers shipped the 2022 special compensatory third-rounder to the Dolphins in the trade up to No. 3 overall in this year's draft. The losses of Bourne and Witherspoon are offset by the additions of Ebukam and Mack. Thomas' departure (along with Hyder's) will be responsible for the seventh-round selections that should come San Francisco’s way.

TEAMS PROJECTED TO RECEIVE 1 PICK

Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals

Projected compensatory picks: Round 4.

Key free-agent losses: Cethan Carter (Dolphins), A.J. Green (Cardinals), William Jackson III (Washington), Carl Lawson (Jets), John Ross (Giants).

Key free-agent additions: Chidobe Awuzie, Trey Hendrickson, Mike Hilton, Larry Ogunjobi.


Comp-pick analysis: The Bengals lost five qualifiers -- including Jackson to Washington in a fairly back-loaded contract -- and signed four. Jackson's deal and Lawson’s should equal fourth-round compensation with one of them being offset by the signing of Hendrickson. That leaves a clear-cut fourth-rounder in next year's draft.

Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys

Projected compensatory picks: Round 4.

Key free-agent losses: Chidobe Awuzie (Bengals), Andy Dalton (Bears), Cameron Erving (Panthers).

Key free-agent additions: Tarell Basham, Keanu Neal.


Comp-pick analysis: Dallas lost three qualifiers and signed two. Based on my projection, Dalton’s deal is left bringing the Cowboys a fourth-round pick -- even if Dalton loses playing time at some point to rookie quarterback Justin Fields.

Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs

Projected compensatory picks: Round 7.

Key free-agent losses: Tanoh Kpassagnon (Saints), Sammy Watkins (Ravens).

Key free-agent additions: Joe Thuney.


Comp-pick analysis: The Chiefs lost two qualifiers and signed one, which put them in position to potentially add a seventh-rounder for the loss of Kpassagnon, with the Watkins and Thuney signings offsetting.

Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders

Projected compensatory picks: Round 6.

Key free-agent losses: Nelson Agholor (Patriots), Devontae Booker (Giants), Maliek Collins (Texans), Takkarist McKinley (Browns).

Key free-agent additions: Kenyan Drake, Yannick Ngakoue, Solomon Thomas.


Comp-pick analysis: A slick move by the Raiders' front office and a little bit of luck should net the team a compensatory selection. In November, the Falcons cut former first-rounder McKinley, who was then claimed and cut by both the Bengals and 49ers after failing his physicals. The Raiders claimed him and sent him straight to injured reserve, where he stayed for the season until being signed by the Browns in free agency. With four departures and three signings, the shrewd McKinley move should become a sixth-round pick.

Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins

Projected compensatory picks: Round 4.

Key free-agent losses: Ryan Fitzpatrick (Washington), Davon Godchaux (Patriots), Kamu Grugier-Hill (Texans), Matt Haack (Bills), Ted Karras (Patriots).

Key free-agent additions: Jacoby Brissett, Adam Butler, Cethan Carter, Will Fuller.


Comp-pick analysis: The bottom line is the Dolphins were slightly less active signing free agents than they were in losing them. After canceling out the appropriate APY totals, it’s clear Miami should score a fifth-round pick for Godchaux.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Projected compensatory picks: Round 7 (potentially).

Key free-agent losses: Joe Haeg (Steelers).

Key free-agent additions: None.


Comp-pick analysis: This selection is tenuous at the moment, but the Bucs currently qualify for a seventh-round pick. If the Steelers decide to cut Haeg despite his $1.5 million in guarantees, it could end up knocking him from consideration for a seventh-round pick. Yes, the Bucs had so many re-signings this offseason, but keep in mind that re-signing your own players does not count toward the compensatory pick formula.

Tennessee Titans
Tennessee Titans

Projected compensatory picks: Round 4.

Key free-agent losses: Jadeveon Clowney (Browns), Corey Davis (Jets), DaQuan Jones (Panthers), Desmond King (Texans), Jonnu Smith (Patriots).

Key free-agent additions: Denico Autry, Bud Dupree, Kevin Johnson, Kendall Lamm.


Comp-pick analysis: By trading for King at midseason, the Titans ended up flipping the math in their favor, losing five qualifiers and signing four this offseason. In essence, the sixth-rounder the Titans gave up for King -- and his departure to Houston in free agency -- ended up helping protect their interests in the compensatory market by allowing them to add a future fourth-rounder for the departure of Smith.

Teams projected to not receive any compensatory picks: Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Football Team.

Follow Lance Zierlein on Twitter.

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